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When Everything Changed: The Impact of the Women's Movement

Martha Rosenberg and NYT columnist Gail Collins talk about why second wave feminism was necessary 50 years after women won the vote.

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Martha Rosenberg: Recently, we've seen two governor's wives engulfed in infidelity scandals, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's wife Silda and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's wife Jenny. Did these women handle the situation differently than they would have before everything changed? 

Gail Collins: I think the Spitzer case marked the end of the days when the wife would stand next to her straying husband, looking brave. Mrs. Spitzer is a pretty formidable woman and if her disaster had happened about six months down the line we probably wouldn't have seen her standing there either. But the bottom line in any marital crisis is always the question of whether you think your life would be better with or without him. From what Jenny Sanford has said, it's pretty clear she's decided happiness is going on her own and leaving her ex-husband to pick up the pieces of his mess. Silda Spitzer seems to feel she and her daughters are better off with Eliot in their lives, and I'm not prepared to second guess that decision. 

Martha Rosenberg: When Everything Changed and America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines, published in 2003, are playful but they are still  history books-- a subject that makes many eyes glaze over. How did you transform from editor of the Times Op-Ed page to history writer? 

Gail Collins: As the year 2000 approached, the Times asked me to write an introduction for their Millenium issue and I was astonished to realize the breadth of changes US women had undergone as I did the research. In less than ten years, over 1000 years of dogma about women was reversed! Writing When Everything Changed gave me a chance to interview some of these women who did amazing things that are still having effects today. 
 

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist who frequently writes about the impact of the pharmaceutical, food and gun industries on public health. A former medical copywriter, her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, as well as on the BBC and in the original National Lampoon.

 
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